The McCain campaign capped a great August with a stellar VP selection. While something in me wants to be a rebel and buck the conventional wisdom in conservative circles by criticizing the pick, the evidence is just too much. This selection immediately thwarted whatever momentum Obama might have hoped to gain from his convention. By Friday afternoon, was anyone still discussing Obama’s nomination speech? This move reinforces McCain’s reformer cred, and it will steal away Obama’s “soft media” advantage (note the upcoming cover of People). It has already enthused the conservative base: reports are going around that the McCain has received upwards of $7 million this weekend.
The polls are already reflecting this Palin effect. According to Gallup, Obama’s 8 point post-convention lead instantly shrank to 6%. A Time poll was more dramatic, showing a 5% Obama lead shriveling to a statistically insignificant 1% advantage.
Of course, she is not perfect. Her main flaw, of course, is her inexperience. The argument goes: the McCain campaign has tried to make this election primarily about experience. Aren’t they undercutting that with such a callow VP nomiee? To that I’d say there should necessarily be different expectations for a President than for a Vice-President. Further, she already has more executive experience than the Obama/Biden ticket, and anyways, our current Vice President had quite a bit of experience before taking office, and, well, this sentence finishes itself.
The next most problematic question: Will her youth only highlight McCain’s age? Perhaps. But I doubt it will be a critical difference. The people who are going to vote against McCain for his age would probably do so no matter how old his VP nominee was. It’s not as if voters are going to all-of-a-sudden realize he’s 72 because he’s standing next to a 44-year old.
I’d say her negatives, if not insignificant, are manageable, and far outweighed by her already manifest positives.